Tag Archives: The Jersey Devil

This 11×2: You’ve really turned a corner.


 

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Adorbs.

 

So, I realize the Twitter generation is probably beside themselves with Glee right now. Me? I am amused. I am also confused.

When we left off last episode, Chris Carter and I weren’t exactly seeing eye to eye. He was gazing somewhere around my kneecaps. Skinner had just been propositioned by that immortal cockroach, CSM, and he smelled like it. Mulder is not fond of the smell of Morleys and told him so. Ergo, we find ourselves at the beginning of “This” episode with Mulder and Scully reluctant to step within two feet of Skinner, they’re so distrustful of him.

But let me take a step back. Before we even get there, how ‘bout them shootouts, eh? I bet you didn’t know that Chris Carter lent Mulder and Scully out to former X-Files writers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa so that they could get special ops training from Jack Bauer. Mine is not to judge, mine is only to say that I thought the opening teaser was a 9 that would have been a 10 if there were one, two, three fewer schizophrenic cuts during the action. Even with the frenetic action, those few minutes were a far sight better than 90% of Season 10 and on par with the other 10%… all of which occurred during “Home Again” (10×2).

Still, I would’ve appreciated just a tad more emotion on Mulder and Scully’s part over Langly’s sudden resurrection. But like I said, mine isn’t to judge.

Back to Mulder and Scully’s unjustified mistreatment of the one person in this world they can trust besides each other, Skinner explains this hullabaloo was due to an Executive Order from the White House. The White House has hired private contractor Purlieu to question Mulder and Scully about… well, he never says what about. About Langly? But how did the White House know to engage Purlieu before Langly contacted Mulder and Scully? The unholy trinity, the inverse images of the Lone Gunmen, they showed up before Langly raised his staticky head.

I’m assuming Skinner was out there in the middle of the Virginia woods because he was on his way to warn Mulder and Scully, but I’m not sure why either the White House or Purlieu would tell Skinner ahead of time what they were about to do, especially since Skinner’s history with Mulder and Scully has to be well known. Heck, it’s a part of those digitized X-Files that have now been disseminated across the globe.

Meanwhile, back in the Unremarkable House, Purlieu tries to trace Langly through Mulder’s phone and those Russian Reds trigger a… KILL SWITCH!!!

Glen Morgan, please pat yourself on the back for name dropping one of my favorite episodes: “Kill Switch” (5×11). Somebody’s been eating their Wheaties and checking their X-Files Wiki. I mean, the knowledge dropping… Mulder watching Deep Throat’s funeral through binoculars, Mulder and Langly’s shared birthday, KILL SWITCH!!!

In fact, for a minute, I thought this was going to be a repeat of the “Kill Switch” plot, that two lovers uploaded their consciousnesses into an AI and sprouted internet wings. Speaking of lovers, I bet you didn’t know Langly had a girlfriend.

And she’s normal.

I’d love to buy it, 1013. I really would. But, I don’t have that much money in my pocket.

Anyway. This frighteningly normal girlfriend of Langly’s did an abnormal thing. She made a pact with Langly to give their brains to Purlieu so that they could “live” eternally (?) in a computer simulation after death.

There are many things I don’t understand about this, but since you and I both have places to be, let me limit myself to two:

  1. What is so spectacular about merely storing your memory if your goal is to live together forever? It isn’t like they’re truly conscious. Everyone in this episode stressed that this is only a simulation. And the simulation will end, as it did, when someone pulls the plug.
  2. Why did the real person have to be dead before their memory within the simulation could “come into consciousness”? That’s awfully convenient to the plot.

Reasoned reasons or not, former girlfriend Karah Hamby leads Mulder and Scully on a Pub Quiz treasure hunt back to her classroom (puh-lease), where she schools them old school on a projector before Langly’s doppelganger rises from the dead just in time to kill her before dying again.

As it turns out, Langly handed over his mind to Purlieu with a plan already in said mind of how to test the simulation from the inside. You know, just in case paradise grew pale, which it did.

I suppose it puts a poop in your party when your mind is being mined by a shadowy Syndicate. I hesitate to capitalize “Syndicate”, but as far as we know, this new Syndicate represented by Erika Price is a continuation of the old Syndicate. The old set out to put the alien in humans, the new wants to put humans in space. And now we know the true purpose of the simulation, for all Erika Price tries to confuse Mulder with a smokescreen about evolution: the purpose is to use the greatest minds of a generation to gain the knowledge needed to colonize space. I gather asking a bunch of living MIT professors would let the cat out of the bag.

Not that Mulder would ever have considered the mind dump Price described as “evolution”.

Verdict:

You know what? I’m now less confused than I was when I started typing up these little musings. Funny how explaining what you don’t understand can help you.

This hard-earned clarity frees me up to enjoy this episode even more. Because while I may not be dancing a jig, I’m satisfied. Probably about as satisfied as this two-season revival is ever going to make me. I’m not quite at “Home Again” levels of satisfaction, but “This” just gave me something I never thought I’d have the pleasure of seeing again: A Half-Caff episode of The X-Files.

For the uninitiated, a Half-Caff episode revolves around an experimental technology or science that the government or a powerful private entity seeks to control and cover up. There’s a government conspiracy, just not one related to the mytharc. It’s a tradition that started way back in “Ghost in the Machine” (1×6) and ended in “Brand X” (7×19) after dying a slow death in popularity after Season 3. But now, the tradition continues.

In this case, it’s not the technology itself that’s so valuable, but the minds the technology gives Purlieu access to. Langly’s mind, even in its confused state, turns to Mulder.

It’s a touching thought. And Langly’s tearful recall of Scully, combined with Mulder and Scully banter that’s over a decade overdue, not to mention that classic early season evidence-erase ending, is nearly enough to get my heart rate up. Nearly.

Yes, maybe the plot is easier to decipher after a rewatch. And yes, the Mulder and Scully banter was old school on point… mostly.

I mean, I know Mulder can be silly. I welcome the return of The Incurable Sarcasm. But would he really be counting loudly in the stairwell when he and Scully are on a stealth mission? Sure, he would make fun of someone who hit on Scully. But would he do it in front of the security guard and break the ruse that’s supposed to get them in the building? Yes, Scully had her fair share of zingers. But would she really joke about alien butts?

Like I said, though. I’m not here to judge. And you know what? It wasn’t “My Struggle III” (11×1)… or I… or II… and it was good.

B+

The Questions:

Are there still no security cameras in the F.B.I. parking garage? Seriously? No guard? Nothing?

Why does Mulder have to be the one to kill CSM? Hmm?

Is Erika Price Mulder’s new nearly equal nemesis now that CSM has graduated to demigod?

How did Dr. Hamby get access to Langly’s tombstone to change the date? Did he leave her in his will?

How did she get access to Deep Throat’s tombstone to change the cross? Did he leave her in his will?

How did she know about Deep Throat’s connection to Mulder when he was buried under his real name and Mulder didn’t know his real name? Langly hacked the info and gave it to her because he knew she’d be able to use it when he was buried in Arlington cemetery one day even though he could have no way of knowing that?

Mulder recognized Deep Throat’s tombstone, among all these lookalike tombstones, as the one he saw from a distance, through binoculars, over 20 years ago? This, but he didn’t recognize his name on the tombstone?

So is Langly alive or not? You’ll notice that question is never truly answered.

The Backup:

The Bureau’s not in good standing with the White House these days. *snort*

“We can’t go to OUR HOME.” – You caught that, didn’t you?

And you also caught the “all things” (7×17) couch pose, yes?

Mulder and Scully made it through the 90’s without visiting an internet cafe, but here they are. And you thought internet cafes were extinct. I didn’t appreciate the PTSD “Trust No 1” (9×8) flashback, though. Scully StupidTM circa 2002.

Mulder’s taking evidence from crime scenes. Even his line delivery is back on point. I have mixed feelings about the “adorbs”, though.

Scully’s hair is so much better. It could still be even better, but at least it’s not embarrassing.

The day The X-Files references The X-Files referencing Silence of the Lambs. See “The Truth” (9×19/20), “The Jersey Devil” (1×4), and pretty much the entire plot of “Beyond the Sea” (1×12).

In case you were wondering about the 4th Gunman in the photo – This Man – The namesake of this episode?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Frohike look 57 to you when he died?

Scully: Frohike looked 57 the day he was born.

……………

Mulder: Who needs Google when you got Scully?

……………

Scully: Maybe he saw Mulder in his dreams.

Mulder: Who hasn’t?

Chinga 5×10: I think some things are better left unexplained.


That's what it's all a-bout!

Finally, we’re here. We’ve arrived at Chris Carter’s answer to Chuckie. I say Chris Carter but I should, of course, say Chris Carter and Stephen King since the two teamed up to write this episode with Chris Carter handling the famous Mulder and Scully dialogue. I know what you’re thinking; Demonic Dolls have been done before. But they haven’t been done by The X-Files.

This is another one of those episodes that, until recently, I was blissfully unaware was disliked by many fans. All I knew was that my best friend from High School and I sure thought it was fabulous because we kept quoting it for the rest of the week after it aired, giggling like the schoolgirls we were. And when I say giggling, it may have sounded more like cackling.

Even though I now know the negativity is out there, and to each their own, I refuse to subject myself to detailed negative reviews on “Chinga” because I will not have the experience of watching it ruined for me. However, using my imagination, I’m going to try to guess at some of where this distaste comes from.

I suspect that the main source of malcontent is that some fans expected this episode to be an original Stephen King thriller, a masterstroke, a groundbreaking moment in television history when two titans, an iconic writer and an iconic television show, meet on the battlefield to dance.

I’ll be the first to say it: This is not a benchmark episode. “Chinga” isn’t even a Stephen King tale so much as it’s an X-Files episode that’s an homage to Stephen King tales. If you take it as such, you’ll be all right. If you were looking for a miniature version of Carrie or The Shining or Pet Sematary then I truly feel bad for you because your unfulfilled hopes will put a damper on this kitsch fest.

Because kitschy it is. And its kitschiness is its charm. After all, what is the thriller-horror genre if it isn’t kitschy, silly, and comfortingly predictable?

Not that I’m blaming anyone for anticipating the best, you understand. I just didn’t personally come to “Chinga” with any great expectations… well, no greater than my expectations for any other X-Files episode. When I watched this at 14 and Stephen King’s name popped up in the credits my mind went, “Cool! Stephen King!” But I didn’t really know what that meant since at 14 my Stephen King experience was limited to The Langoliers. (“Oh, Mr. Toooomey!”)

But if the story leaves something wanting, “Chinga” has enough to recommend itself on Mulder and Scully dialogue alone. One of the things I love most about “Chinga” is how it’s a reversal of roles for our two agents. What’s Mulder’s typical MO? Is it not to leave Scully hanging on the phone after he disconnects abruptly maybe after leaving her with some cryptic message? Go back in your minds to “War of the Coprophages” (3×12) for a moment and think if Scully’s character wasn’t owed an episode like this. “WotC” gave us a comical look at the way Mulder blows off Scully and “Chinga” is in a way an answer to that episode, giving Scully the telephonic upper hand for once.

Mulder’s antics while on the phone with Scully still make me laugh out loud to this day. That man has nothing going for him besides Scully. Nothing.

Not that Scully is exactly living it up without Mulder tying her down. Like in “The Jersey Devil” (1×4), all attempts by Scully to approach something akin to normalcy are eventually futile. It won’t happen. And despite her attempts to coyly play up her weekend with the mention of “Jack,” Scully is just as reluctant to admit that she can’t escape this gravitational pull, that she’s been investigating an X-File in her spare time, as Mulder is to admit that he’s bored with nothing to investigate and no Scully to investigate with.

The Sum Total:

I do love “Chinga”. I’ll say it loudly and proudly. There’s a whiff of campiness about the whole thing that saves it from the usual perils of too many clichés. And if I were to rate episodes purely based on the quality of Mulder and Scully’s banter “Chinga” could potentially take home the prize.

And even if I wouldn’t categorize it as a truly frightening X-File, it’s definitely a creepy one starting with that great opening teaser. I don’t know about you, but I find watching other people scratch their eyes out a little unsettling. Then there’s watching Miss Rapunzel nearly get scalped after getting her hair caught in the ice cream mixer. I don’t think there’s anything more quintessentially The X-Files than to take two things as mundane as a ponytail and soft serve ice cream and turn them into a match made in paranormal hell. The somewhat tongue in cheek choice to have the Hokey Pokey on repeat doesn’t hurt the atmosphere either, since I can believe in almost any kind of evil with that song in the background. It’s almost as bad as the Chicken Dance.

On a final note, who else thinks Mulder is half serious when he asks Scully to marry him? Show of hands? Because to me he has the look of a man who has just had a revelation. My Scully-Crushing theory still holds.

A

P.S. “Jack. Can I call you ‘Jack?’”

Maine Lobsters:

All I can think of when I see the actress who plays Melissa Turner, Susannah Hoffman, is the miniseries Anne of Avonlea. Anne of Green Gables – My first great love.

The wise old man who sensed the presence of evil in that doll should look familiar too. He’s the same wise old man who sensed the presence of evil in “Squeeze” (1×2) and “Tooms” (1×20) as Detective Frank Briggs.

Okay, why do we open with Scully wearing just a t-shirt when everyone who walked into the grocery store a few moments before had on heavy jackets?

I guess Scully didn’t know better in 1998 than to answer her cell phone at the gas pump.

The establishing shot of a coastal town in Maine looks suspiciously like the coastal town in Oregon used in the “Pilot” (1×79).

Speaking of the “Pilot”, I’m suddenly struck by how far the show and the characters have come. Think of Mulder and Scully’s first meeting and then look at them now, unable to properly spend a weekend apart.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: [On the phone] Yeah, well, maybe you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Scully: Like evidence of conjuring or the black arts or… shamanism, divination, Wicca or any kind of pagan or neo-pagan practice… charms, cards, familiars, blood stones or hex signs or any of the ritual tableau associated with the occult, sensory, abudan, mukamba or any kind of high or low magic…
Mulder: Scully?
Scully: Yes?
Mulder: Marry me.
Scully: I was hoping for something a little more helpful.

——————–

Scully: [Answering phone] Scully.
Mulder: Well, hey! Uh… I thought you weren’t answering your cell phone.
Scully: Then why’d you call?
Mulder: I… uh… I had a new thought about this case you’re working on. There’s a viral infection that’s spread by simple touch…
Scully: Mulder, are there any references in occult literature to… objects that have the power to… direct human behavior?
Mulder: What… types of objects?
Scully: Um, like a doll for instance.
Mulder: You mean like Chuckie!?
Scully: Yeah, kind of like that.
Mulder: Well, yeah. The talking doll myth is well established in literature, especially in New England. The, uh, Fetish, or Juju, is believed to pass on magical powers onto its possessor. Some of the early witches were condemned for little more than proclaiming that these objects existed, the supposed witch having premonitory visions and things… Why do you ask?
Scully: I was just curious.
Mulder: You didn’t find a talking doll did you, Scully?
Scully: No, no… of course not, uh…
Mulder: I would suggest that you should check the back of the doll for a… a plastic ring with a string on it. That would be my first… [Scully hangs up] Hello?

https://twitter.com/#!/marksmissus66/status/126376626618511360

Christmas Carol 5×5: She must’ve dialed 1-800-The-Great-Beyond.


Visions of Sugar Plums??

A rare glimpse into Scully’s life outside of the X-Files confirms that she’s just as reserved off the job as she is professionally. Can we blame her? The Scully family table, seen again for the second time since “Gethsemene” (4×24), isn’t exactly the warmest place in the world. You could cut the underlying tensions with the proverbial butcher’s knife.

It’s Christmas time in X-Files land. You know what that means: Ghosts.

Well, maybe not a physical one exactly.

I’ve never given much credence to the “Scully as Latent Psychic” interpretation of The X-Files, but I must say, the woman does see/hear an awful lot of dead people. First she has a vision of her father right after his death in “Beyond the Sea” (1×12), then she dreams of Mulder barely back from the dead in “The Blessing Way” (3×1), next she sees dead strangers in “Elegy” (4×22), and now in “Christmas Carol”, she’s receiving phone calls from beyond the grave care of a deceased sister who was creepier alive than she is dead.

At this rate, I’d say Scully averages about one dead vision per season. We could also count her hospital visions in “One Breath” (2×8), but then she was already half dead herself. Even so, I can’t help but think of “One Breath” when I watch this two-episode arc, not only because Melissa Scully makes a return appearance, but because they’re both lessons in death, or more specifically, conversations on whether or not it’s more humane to preserve life or allow it to end. Oh, and then there are all the “Baby Dana” flashbacks…

Speaking of “Baby Dana”, it would seem that even as a child Scully was the type to keep her thoughts to herself, at least that’s the picture that’s painted for us here. There’s a trend that started in Season 4 with Scully’s cancer where Scully is progressively characterized as isolated and even somewhat anti-social. Oh, she’s not lacking in social graces the was Mulder is, but we get the feeling as time passes that she’s a little trapped in her own head.

I’m not sure what brought this characterization on, exactly, except that it created more drama during her cancer arc for Scully to keep her emotions to herself and then it continued from there. If you look at Season 1, particularly in episodes like “Squeeze” (1×2), “The Jersey Devil” (1×4) and “Lazarus” (1×14), we get the impression that Scully likes and is liked by people. Over the course of this current two-parter, the Scully we meet acts like she’s never had a friend in the world.

So then what about Mulder? It looks like there are aspects of herself that Scully is still unwilling to share. I’m not so sure that makes her isolated and alone so much as it makes her a normal human being. How could you possibly fully explain the workings of your own heart to another living soul? We’re too complicated for that, but I digress.

Scully reverts back a little to her old ways with Mulder, wanting to reach out to him but hanging up the phone instead. Is she too proud to admit she needs help and support? Does she not want to sound crazier than he does? Probably both, but we’ll never know exactly. Scully’s relationship with Mulder is hardly the focus of this episode.

And so to the crux of the matter: I can honestly say that in my teenage naïveté I didn’t originally see the twist coming at the end, and I should have. But I must say that I believe I stifled a groan at Scully’s microwave pack of Instant Motherhood intruding into my X-Files world.

Not that the topic of Scully and motherhood is completely sudden. Ever since a carefully crafted conversation on a public bench in “Home” (4×3) the topic has been up for discussion, even more so since Mulder literally stumbled upon the secret of Scully’s infertility in “Memento Mori” (4×15).  Now that Scully’s cancer plot is behind us, it’s only right that we watch her deal with the emotional aftermath and her fertility is as good a place as any to start.

And yet… even after all these years I’m still not sold on the idea of Scully becoming a mother out of the clear blue sky. We’re not even talking about an ooey, gooey little baby that she has to accept, but a fully formed child well into her developmental years. And Emily is so lacking in interest and personality… Can Scully really feel such an instant, strong connection to a stranger? Can we as the audience feel connected enough to the child to believe that she is Scully’s? Can we even enjoy them together? I can only speak for myself when I say that later on, watching Scully’s motherhood being just as suddenly stripped away only adds to my sense that it didn’t belong to begin with.

Verdict:

This one is a bit of a Christmas fantasy of sorts. Who hasn’t wished that they could hear a lost loved one’s voice on the line one last time? Who hasn’t been afraid they’d forget the nuances, the timber of that voice before too much time had passed? For exploring that idea alone I’ll give this episode the most credit.

Okay, so “Christmas Carol” is not one of my favorite episodes of Season 5. It’s a little… subdued for my taste since, if you’ve read my reviews at all, I’m a sucker for an exciting, adventuresome X-File. Give me a romp in the deep, dark woods anytime. In comparison, this sleepy little story doesn’t make my finger twitch over the rewind button.

But another part of me is quite proud that this show can vary itself so drastically from week to week. We just went from a black and white fantasy horror fest to a quiet, contemplative and incredibly contained mystery in a mere 7 days. If that’s not good television I don’t know what is.

There’s one thing that still nags at me: Where are all the other little Emilys? Surely the Syndicate, responsible for clones upon drones, didn’t stop at one little Uber Scully.

B

Flotsam and Jetsam:

Wait, when did Scully learn she can’t have kids and more than that, when did she find out that her abduction was the cause? Mulder knew as of “Memento Mori” , but he doesn’t tell Scully about that little discovery of his until “Emily” (5×7) and even then he doesn’t explain in detail until Season 7. Sure, her doctors could have told her there was something wrong, but how did she know it was a result of her abduction and that her sterility wasn’t brought about by her cancer treatments?

I know I’m cold-hearted, but Scully giving Emily her cross so easily always irked me.

This has to be one of Gillian Anderson’s best looking episodes ever. Well, except for that jacked up weave they put on her head.

It’s comforting to know Bill Scully, Jr. was always a punk, even in childhood.

It’s amazing how streamlined the adoption process was made for Scully. Then there’s the fact that the things Scully confesses to the caseworker would have gotten her name scratched off of any respectable list. Ah, the miracle of creative license.

“Danny” still makes an appearance at this late date.

Best Quotes:

Mini Scully: This has got to be it! It’s got to be “Hotel California!”

———————–

Bill Scully, Jr.: You really think Melissa had a baby?
Scully: Yes. I do.
Bill Scully, Jr.: She called you from beyond the grave to tell you that? Sounds like something that partner of yours would say.

———————–

Tara Scully: Oh! Oh, that was a good one!
Bill Scully, Jr.: What? Is he kicking?
Tara Scully: Oh, he’s kicking! He’s kick-boxing! Well you had boys and girls, so which one kicked more?
Margaret Scully: Oh, I had some pretty tough little girls.

———————–

Scully: I don’t believe in fate. I think we have to choose our own path.
Melissa Scully: Well, just don’t mistake the path with what’s really important in life.
Scully: Which is what?
Melissa Scully: The people you’re gonna meet along the way. You don’t know who you’re gonna meet when you join the F.B.I. You don’t know how your life is gonna change… or how you are gonna change the life of others.

Oubliette 3×8: I guess she’s not too big on confined spaces.


Flash Forward or Back?

Ah, “Oubliette.” I realize I should probably love this episode and yet… a knot formed in my stomach just as my thumb touched the play button.

That’s silly, I suppose. Here The X-Files takes a brave step forward by giving us an episode slightly outside its typical formula. But it’s not the formula that concerns me, it’s the tone.

Here we have a Monster of the Week who is perfectly human and decidedly not paranormal. Since the success of Donnie Pfaster in “Irresistible” (2×13) I’m sure the writers were itching to try it again, only this time they take it a step further in that Donnie Pfaster had at least a smidgen of paranormal aura. Whether it was all in Scully’s mind or not, at this point, we don’t know. This new villain, Carl Wade, is as typical an unsupernatural pedophile as he can be. The paranormal element is introduced in his victims instead, the currently kidnapped Amy Jacobs and Lucy Householder, his former victim.

We open with something also against formula when we see Mulder already at the crime scene without so much as a strand of Scully’s titian hair in sight. It becomes clear quickly that this one is Mulder’s story. The parallels are obvious: Amy Jacobs was taken from her bed at night and spirited out the window while her little sister looked on from the other bed helpless to stop it. This sounds strikingly similar to Mulder’s account of Samantha’s abduction that we heard in “Conduit” (1×3), another episode where Mulder’s ability to relate to the case is both his strength and his weakness.

We’ve already seen in “Conduit”, “The Jersey Devil” (1×4) and even “3” (2×7) that Mulder has a soft spot for any “little girl lost” that stems from the scars of Samantha’s abduction. Even Scully agrees with me:

Scully: You don’t see what you’re doing, do you, Mulder? You are so close to this that you just don’t see it.
Mulder: What don’t I see?
Scully: The extreme rationalization that’s going on, your personal identification with the victim, or in this case the suspect. That you’ve become some kind of empath yourself, Mulder. You are so sympathetic to Lucy as a victim, like your sister, that you can’t see her as a person who is capable of committing this crime.
Mulder: You don’t think I’ve thought of that? I have. And not everything I do and say and think and feel goes back to my sister. You, of all people, should realize that sometimes motivations for behavior can be more complex and mysterious than tracing them back to one single childhood experience.

Oh, Mulder. Methinks thou doth protest too much. While I know Mulder’s right about the case, I agree with Scully. Even if he were wrong, Mulder would have a terrible time admitting that Lucy was guilty. He clearly identifies with her because of Samantha, so I don’t know who he thinks he’s kidding. He didn’t even bother to deny it in “Conduit” and I don’t know why he does here. It’s an interesting element to his character that he’s constantly trying to save all the other “Samanthas” out there since he hasn’t been able to save his own. The problem is, I’m rarely interested in the women he’s attempting to help.

Lucy Householder isn’t an exception to that rule. Mulder is going to bat for this woman and it’s hard not to feel like she doesn’t deserve it. Of course, she does, but it doesn’t feel like it. Here’s a woman that may not be living a perfect life but she’s living. And considering all that she’s been through you’d think there’d be some spark of fire in her, something that’s kept her going all these years but there’s nothing. I can see Scully’s irritation at her attitude and I find myself having the same reaction. Maybe as a woman I have a harder time seeing her as a damsel in distress.

What bothers me most is that Lucy is so devoid of hope. A woman used to believing she’s powerless. She couldn’t help herself when she was kidnapped and kept prisoner for years, she can’t help herself now in her dead-end life, why would she be able to help anyone else? Even her final sacrificial act isn’t one of empowerment but of defeat. She dies not to save Amy, but because it’s not worth it to fight anymore. That’s what Mulder is trying to explain to Scully at the end of the episode: he didn’t save her at all, she gave up. “Finally, it was the only way she could escape.”

…And the Verdict is:

As good as the acting is in this episode, and it is good, and as good as the pacing and direction is, and it’s also good, I think part of the reason I dreaded having to watch it is because it’s no fun.

I should explain. Here’s what I don’t mean when I say “fun”: something that isn’t sad or something that’s humorous. It can be scary, meaningful, thoughtful, tearful even and still be “fun.” The Godfather II isn’t exactly an uplifting film but it’s one of the most fun movies in existence. I can’t help but get excited about it.

“Oubliette” is emotionally almost oppressive. It’s not that it’s dark the way The X-Files typically is as far as its subject; not that kidnapping and pedophilia isn’t a dark topic, but this is a show that’s covered child murder and entity rape so I think its audience isn’t afraid to “go there.” No, it’s not the subject that bothers me it’s the tone and the outcome. There’s nothing to balance out the sadness and despair. Is there a single joke or sarcastic line in this episode? Any brief moment of levity?  There’s just nothing to get excited about, nothing funny or scary or otherwise.

Mulder tries to reach Lucy, to gift to her some of his strength, but he fails. Thank heavens Mulder is a Mulder and not a Lucy. The X-Files would be a very different place if he were a despairing rather than proactive individual. Heck, we wouldn’t have a hero.

Maybe this is an episode where my worldview gets too far in the way for me to appreciate it. I’m too hopeful a cynic.

C+

Nagging Questions:

That was some bogus CPR Scully pulled. But I suppose they can’t fit the truth in a 43 minute episode: they would have worked on that child for an hour.

Random Thoughts:

I didn’t mention Jewel Staite. Imagine my surprise when I looked her up for this episode and found out she’s become a star. Apparently everyone knows her from Firefly and Stargate Atlantis. Me, I remember fondly a little show on The Disney Channel called Flash Forwardhttp://youtu.be/LNVE9HWUxiE

Best Quotes:

Myra Jacobs: Who could do such a thing? Who could take somebody that wasn’t theirs?
Mulder: I know you must be feeling…
Myra Jacobs: I’m sorry, but how could you really know how I feel?

——————-

Scully: That’s spooky.
Mulder: That’s my name isn’t it?

——————-

Mulder: Have you ever experienced temporary blindness before?
Lucy Householder: I’ve probably experienced just about everything once or twice. It’s all been pretty temporary.

——————-

Scully: I hate to say this Mulder, but I think you just ran out of credibility.

Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 2


*Editor’s Note: Nina is a long time X-Phile and shipper extraordinaire. (Seriously. You guys thought I was rabid.) You can find more of her humorous insights into The X-Files, Supernatural, 24 and other fandoms on her tumblr at myspecialhell.tumblr.com. Here’s part 2 of her rundown on Mulder and Scully’s relationship in Season 1. Agree/disagree with her observations? Duke it out in the comments section. We can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

And with that, take it away, Nina!

Biased, completely personal, with tongue firmly planted in cheek

The first episodes: aka getting to know each other

 ~ And you? You think I’m spooky?

                                       – Mulder (Squeeze)

As I previously said, a year and half passed between the events of the pilot episode and those of “Deep Throat” the first regular episode of the series…and the missing year and half still bugs me to no end.

If we choose to follow this time line, Mulder and Scully had been partners for over a year when they met in that bar at the beginning of the episode. There was an obvious attraction, and hey…that’s one of the few times we have seen them together outside the office!

There was this thing where they constantly invaded each other’s space, which, I’m sure every FBI agent is trained to do (note the sarcasm here…sheesh…Carter did *so* fool us!)

At the same time, though, it’s clear that there was still some mistrust. Mulder still didn’t trust Scully.

Now, before someone jump in saying what a jerk Mulder was, let’s state the obvious shall we?

At the time, Scully still reported to Blevins, she still wrote her reports. It’s a constant of the first season. Mulder might have felt that Scully was not a spy, but he wasn’t ready and willing to sacrifice what he perceived as the only way to find out the truth about his sister and what had happened to her.

Oh, and besides, if we have to accept the canon of the show (personally, there are things which I’ve merrily chosen to ignore, ie: Mulder’s stupid, lame, brain disease they babbled about in the eighth season!) Mulder had recently broken up with a woman he had been in love with, a woman he had loved so much that he had – beats on me on this, because it’s not clear– married her.

As much as the fanon wants him as a loner, a loose cannon, in actuality Mulder doesn’t do short time commitment once he smells the coffee.

If said woman was Diana Fowley, a woman who had worked with him, whom he had broken up with, prissibly when he needed her the most…is it a surprise Mulder was a bit cautious?

And we don’t want to mention Phoebe Greene, do we?

So, my speculation is: Mulder’s instinct on people is usually right, I mean, the guy is a psychologist *and* a profiler…it’s his heart he doesn’t trust…especially with women. He isn’t sure whether he can trust his own instincts.

Things for Scully were a bit different. It’s shown since the first episode, that she’s loyal to Mulder: she threatened a man in Deep Throat to get her partner back, she bid her goodbye to her own reputation and her old life in Squeeze, when she took Mulder’s side against Tom Colton. We had seen her bidding goodbye to her social life when she gave up on a date for the X-Files in The Jersey Devil.

And she thought he was cute. She said so to a friend of hers: Ellen. She also said that he was a jerk, but marveled immediately after when she added that he wasn’t a jerk…he was just obsessed with his job.

Mulder talked to Scully about Samantha in the pilot episode, but it’s only in Conduit, the third episode of the series, written by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa that, for the first time, she really had an insight on how much Mulder’s search for his sister meant to him.

On a side note: Conduit rocks! It’s one of my favorite episodes ever!  It’s the episode that really turned me into a Phile. I remember when I first saw it, how much it hurt to watch Mulder struggle against his own pain and recollections to bring Ruby Morris home. And it never ceases to amaze me, how empathic Mulder is of other people’s pain.

That’s one of the things I love most about Mulder: throughout the series, he never lost compassion for the victims and their families. He never forgot that he had been on the other side of the fence…and that he still was.

There was a touching scene at the beginning of the episode, which served the purpose to make Scully understand how much Mulder still loved his sister… Mulder and Scully were in the living room of Ruby Morris’ house; Mulder looked at some photographs and tenderly brushed one of the pictures taken when Ruby was just a child, about Samantha’s age.

In Conduit, Mulder talked to Scully…he told her something about Samantha, about his life after her abduction. He told her of a ritual he had when he was a child of how before entering his room he closed his eyes hoping that  when he would open them, his sister was here, as if nothing had happened. He told her kept entering that room, every single day.

I was blown away by the importance of that confession. If in the pilot episode Mulder needed Scully to understand why the X-Files were so important to him, in this episode he just needed to let her understand that Samantha wasn’t just a name associated with pain and guilt. She wasn’t just Mulder’s holy grail. Samantha was Mulder’s baby sister, and I’d wager that that kind of pain only increased with each passing year.

Mulder was thirty-two when Conduit aired, he was old enough to have children of his own, children of Samantha’s age when she was abducted. I think the sorrow over what happened to Samantha grew with Mulder, morphed somehow with each passing year as he grew up.

In the end, Scully stopped Mulder from seeking more answers…but I’ve always thought she had done so to protect him. She had seen how much that case had hit him too close to home. She had seen it all…and after that, she needed to understand, she needed to know.

She listened to the tapes of Mulder’s regression hypnosis. Mulder made no mystery of them; they were probably included in Samantha’s file…

Scully was alone, judging from her backgrounds she was probably alone in her own home as she listened to Mulder’s anguished voice as he recalled that night. As we heard the heartbreaking words of the voice over we saw him, in a church, sitting on a bench, holding in his hands a picture of his sister. He cried and he finally began to pray

What? Mulder prays? Wasn’t he agnostic? Wasn’t he Jew? Shut-up! It doesn’t matter!

Anyway, the fact that Mulder, who is a very private person, revealed so much about him to Scully shows that in his own way, he was really trying to open up, to trust her.

But, they had to go all the way to Icy Cape, and be closed off in a cabin with Rack from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, George Mason from 24 and the chick with way too many children, from Desperate Housewives to talk about trust for the first time…go figure it out![1]

Breaking the ice

~ Welcome to the top of the world, Agent Mulder. (Ice)

Ice is a milestone for Mulder and Scully’s relationship…

Before going on, there’s a lot to be said about Trust on the X-Files. As you probably know, one of the mottos of the show is: trust no one. The word trust, and its more profound meaning are a crucial part of the show…and trust is the basis of Mulder and Scully’s relationship…even more so than love.

Yes, Mulder and Scully did keep things from each other from time to time, for pride and because they wanted to protect each other from harm, they were stubborn individuals, scarred and pretty much screwed up, but the core of their bond was trust. It’s always been.

One of the reasons the first half of the sixth season[2] was painful to watch for me, both as a fan of the show and as a shipper, was because the trust Mulder and Scully had in each other had been tarnished by outside forces: Diana Fowley (God, I had forgotten how much I despised her and why!).

But I’m getting ahead of myself…once again.

Ice, is a great MOTW[3] episode…but most of all, is the aforementioned milestone, one of the many.

Mulder and Scully had been working together for a while when they were sent to Ice Cape. They had a good working relationship, they made a good team on the field…but did they trust each other? Did they trust each other with their lives?

They had saved each other butts enough times by that point, but…- again– how much did they trust each other?

That trip to Icy Cape became soon enough a nightmare and a test for their partnership.

We find out that deep down, Mulder and Scully didn’t implicitly trust each other, not yet. But they were getting there.

I think what happened in the store when they examined each other was the crumbling of the first wall between them. I’ve previously talked about the scene in the pilot episode where they locked glances through the fake mirror, and as I said Ice broke the first wall, broke the ice between them.

Mulder said he didn’t trust the other people, but he wanted to trust Scully. He was talking about the events that were taking place that night, but I’ve always believed those words had a deeper meaning. Mulder wanted to trust Scully. He wanted to trust his partner. He wanted to trust the young woman who had been assigned from their superiors to debunk his work on the X-Files.

And from that moment on he started to.

On a totally shallow level: my God…you could cut the sexual tension with a knife in the scene in the room. I love the way he touched Scully: gently, with reverence almost. I love how he brushed away some locks from the nape of her neck – and it is just me or the X-Files writers had some kind of a fetish with Gillian Anderson’s neck? –

And I love how Scully touched Mulder…and how she touched anything but his neck!

After the events of Ice, their relationship began to chance, morph into something deeper, although it was a gradual thing. Mulder began to trust Scully on a personal level, but only with the events of “Fallen Angel” he got that he could trust her, really trust her as far as the X-Files were concerned.

Fallen Angel is a beautiful episode, it’s a classic X-File, it has everything in it: conspiracy, aliens and it gave us another insight into Mulder and Scully’s budding partnership. I love how it is shown that they were already totally comfortable into each other’s rooms at the motels. We see that in almost every episode of the first season.

The end of Fallen Angel is beautiful…Scully felt for Mulder, for what she perceived was going to be the end of the X-Files’ division, and I think that didn’t go unnoticed on Mulder.

So, they had begun to trust each other both on a personal level (Ice) and on a professional level (Fallen Angel) yet, we find out that Mulder still withheld information from her, such as the fact that he had a source, Deep Throat. As we can see in “Eve”.

Mulder and Scully’s interaction in Eve was fantastic: they were totally at ease with each other, there was playful banter, you could choke in the chemistry they shared.

I said they were comfortable into each other’s rooms, so much that Scully answered to a phone call in Mulder’s hotel room. And what has always surprised me was that Mulder didn’t seem to mind. It was natural, an almost everyday occurrence.

On a side note: didn’t they really look like the lovely parents of the two kids?

I will write about how people perceive their relationship, later.


[1]              The actors who guest starred in Ice, later starred or guest starred on other shows: I don’t remember the name of the guy who played the pilot in ice (and Rack on BTVS)  the others are Xander Berkley and Felicity Huffman

[2]                Aka The Hell Also Known As The Sixth Season or how to screw up your characters and still think you’re the second coming of Writers (Bitter to the Surfer Dude? Who, moi?)

[3]              MOTW acronym for Monster of The Week

Shadows 1×5: It’s a big bell with a big crack.


These are our "interested" faces.

This is the second outing for Morgan and Wong, though it’s ultimately not as memorable as Squeeze (1×2). Looking back, the episode spent too much time focused on the victim, Lauren Kyte. My understanding is that the network wanted to see Mulder and Scully helping people through their cases and this was Morgan and Wong’s response. Consequently, Mulder and Scully do more to help Lauren Kyte reach an emotional breakthrough than they do to catch the ghost. Fox probably should’ve kept its opinions to itself.

I have to say that overall, this is an episode I don’t have much at all to say about. It’s not particularly frightening, neither is it absolutely boring. There are quite a few humorous moments and some memorable side characters what with the pathologist and the graveyard caretaker. Scully starts throwing in the one-liners, which is a bonus. There’s also Mulder and Scully’s wild ride…

Part of the problem is that we, as the audience, know that the poltergeist is Howard Graves from early on. Mulder and Scully are playing catch up, which diminishes some of the excitement the episode should have had. Their investigation is sound, just boring because we already have the answers.

Most disappointingly, there isn’t much to observe about character development because, well, there is none. Mulder and Scully’s evolution is traded for Lauren Kyte panicking and sniffling. I suppose I can’t say there’s no character development. Scully does reveal that she’s an undiscovered actress. She certainly fooled Lauren Kyte. Mulder, for his part, if he isn’t angry at Scully for the charade, does seem a little disappointed that his partner would use Lauren Kyte’s belief to manipulate her. We all know that believing in ghosts is sacrosanct. Let’s go the positive route and say that Scully was trying to find a way for everybody to win.

At least Mulder and Scully learn to live a little… while they’re alive. This is the first time we see them just killing time together with Mulder’s suggested field trip to the Liberty Bell. Maybe they did learn a lesson from “The Jersey Devil” (1×4).

And the Verdict is…

Let’s just say the tone of this review isn’t negative but rather a little uninterested. I’ve seen this episode I don’t know how many times and still have the same reaction. Not that there aren’t some decent moments, but the story overall isn’t engaging.

Certainly the bathtub scene is creepy. It feels like something out of a horror movie. And like in Carrie, watching people get thrown around by an invisible force is always good for some fun.

Shadows does bear the lonely moniker of being the first, and maybe only real, X-Files ghost story. The later episode, “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (6×8) was more of a jolly romp than a paranormal nightmare. Fun, mind you, but not frightening. This episode was influenced by the greats that came before it: Carrie, Poltergeist. In case we’re unsure of what the writers had in mind, the characters reference those films directly. It was a good attempt if not a rousing success.

At least we can be sure a truly platonic love existed somewhere in The X-Files universe.

C-

Bepuzzlements:

Why didn’t Graves exact his revenge from the beginning?

Who knew Mulder was a photographer? Why didn’t this knowledge pop up in later episodes like “Unruhe” (4×4) for instance?

General Observations:

Mulder’s first Elvis reference!

Scully in that green jacket and peach blouse… she looked like pumpkin pie on a Christmas dinner table.

During the interrogation scene, Mulder and Scully have his and her pink and black mugs. Hilarious.

Scully conveniently can’t get out of her seatbelt and so misses the poltergeist party. Is it predictable yet?

Did anyone else feel that Dorland was propositioning Lauren… just a tad?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I would never lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation.

——————

Scully: Psychokinesis? You mean how Carrie got even at the prom?

——————-

Mulder: You know how difficult it is to fake your own death? Only one man has pulled it off: Elvis.

——————-

Mulder: Hey, Scully, do you believe in an afterlife?
Scully: I’d settle for a life in this one.

The Jersey Devil 1×4: I’m not far from where you left me.


I'm hunting wabbits.

This largely ignored episode may never be completely forgotten if only for one reason: We delve into our favorite agents’ social lives… or gross lack thereof. While neither Mulder nor Scully have much of a life outside of the FBI, Scully seems to be faring better than Mulder. Still, her weekend highlight is little more than a kid’s birthday party. I suppose she’s making an effort.

Speaking of the party, Scully’s knee-jerk, “He’s a jerk” in response to her girlfriend’s suggestion of Mulder as a potential love interest shows just how thoroughly she’s ruled him out as a prospect. OK, as Scully concedes, he’s not a jerk. He’s definitely not boyfriend material either. Case in point, the way he ditched her earlier that day.

But might not there be hope? After all, she’s clearly thought about the possibility! Before we shippers tip ourselves into over-excitement, we can’t read too much into this. She considered the possibility of dating Mulder, yes. Most girls consider their prospects in regards to the men in their lives if only in passing, not necessarily with any seriousness. And Scully wisely comes to the conclusion that Mulder is in no shape for marriage or any other serious relationship. Remember that porn fixation of his?

Meanwhile, Mulder blasts Detective Thompson, with all indignation, for protecting the city’s financial interests and keeping this Jersey Devil thing under wraps. But even if that’s exactly what the detective is doing, is he supposed to cause a mass panic by claiming there’s a monster on the loose? Should he have let the Jersey Devil live to kill again or be studied in a glass cage? The Detective Thompson character is deliciously malicious, but it’s a little wasted on such a relatively benign conspiracy. I only wish his motivations had been more sinister and less pragmatic.

As for Mulder’s character evolution, we see an expansion on what we glimpsed in him during Conduit (1×3). Here is the Mulder that empathizes with monsters and outcasts, particularly the female ones. We see more of this identification in later episodes like Oubliette (3×8), yet even here he expresses fascination for this cannibalistic cave woman as if she were a piece of art in the Louvre. Nevermind the fact that she’s killing innocent strangers, why quibble over trifles? What’s a modern human or two compared to the survival of Captain Cave-man? At least Mulder’s psychology is consistent if not altogether reasonable.

Scully brings in a scientist, an anthropologist, to lecture Mulder. It’s nice to delve into the character’s history a little bit. But just like Scully’s godson, her professor goes the way of the dinosaur after this episode. Things get a little expositional at this point, but isn’t the point of The X-Files to force the audience to ponder the possibilities?

Now for one of the best parts, Scully ditches her date. For all her talk about wanting to have a life, Scully apparently isn’t as interested in a normal family life as her friend expects her to be. She enjoys her career. She displays no hankering after children, no biological clock ticking like the Tell-Tale Heart, merely a mild regret at not having time to explore the possibility of having a family. Her friend pounces on it.

Even her date seems to be entered into with some reluctance. She’s just going through the motions with this incredibly interesting accountant. And despite her statement to Mulder earlier, she’s not at all bothered when he calls and interrupts her evening. At the end of the episode, she easily turns down a domesticated day of bliss with her date and his son in order to continue her investigation with Mulder. I said it for the Pilot and I’ll say it again: Mulder, and by extension the X-Files, is the most interesting thing that’s ever come into Dana Scully’s life. At this point, she’s loathe to give it up. Ethans, accountants… they can’t compare. I’m not saying she has a thing for Mulder, I just think Scully’s more of a glutton for excitement than she would even admit to herself.

And the Verdict is…

This is as close as the series ever got to Big Foot. As the show progressed, they steered further away from urban myths and more toward the straight-up paranormal. Quagmire (3×22) is the only real exception I can think of.

Like in “Quagmire”, here we see Scully questioning the trajectory of her life and whether or not her partner needs a psychological intervention. If she doesn’t come to an ultimate conclusion, she does make a decision and happily trails after Mulder by the end of the episode. Mulder, for his part, is busy as ever writing the book on how to not make friends and alienate people. His hunches hold up, his emotions are on his sleeve. In short, it’s comforting to know that he’s quintessentially Mulder this early on in the series. He even ditches Scully with practiced aplomb.

The Jersey Devil is definitely good for some Mulder/Scully funny. Mulder lands himself in some rather amusing trouble and Scully rescues him with a self-satisfied smirk. Later on, Scully feigns innocent as she mentions her date while Mulder doesn’t feign his inability to care when he assumes she’d want to cancel.

The ending is as vague and open-ended as we come to expect from the first season. Are these Devils truly Neanderthals or a relatively modern family that happened to get lost in the forest a really, really long time ago?

All in all, it’s a little disappointing to find that The Jersey Devil is just a human. Primitively human, maybe, but merely human.

B-

Bepuzzlements:

Why is Mulder willing to infest himself with lice based on nothing more than the crude drawing of a man? Considering this is a homeless colony in a big city, what’s so strange about a wild looking man digging in the trash for food?? No one else would have entertained the possibility of their being anything to it except for Mulder and his (in)famous intuition.

Why would a “carnivorous Neanderthal” occupy a space above us on the food chain? Wouldn’t our advanced intelligence win the day?

The Jersey Devil looks distinctly Caucasian. Yet, supposedly, they’ve been hiding out from the evolutionary chain in these American woods for thousands of years. I smell inconsistency.

Even if the Jersey Devil was killing to protect her young, why cannibalize? And how does that explain the unprovoked killing of the father in the 1940s?

General Observations:

Somebody catch me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is our first glimpse into Mulder’s porn fetish.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Hey, what do you say we grab a hotel, take in a floor show, drop a few quarters in the slots… Do a little digging on this case?
Scully: You’re kidding, right?
Mulder: OK, we can skip the floor show.

————————

Mulder: Don’t you have a life, Scully?
Scully: Keep that up, Mulder, and I’ll hurt you like that beast-woman.